Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Buddhist Website Shut Down for Posting Too Much 'Free' Music"

Someday soon, a headline like the title of this post could be true. David over at the Endless Further, posted the following today:

This week we’ve had the controversy over airport screenings and pat-downs conducted by TSA or Transportation Safety Administration, a branch of the US Department of Homeland Security. The bill in question amounts to another kind of pat-down and eventually, take-down. The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) received unanimous approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee. It will still require full approval from the House and Senate before becoming law.

In a nutshell, this bill gives the Attorney General the power to “shut down websites if copyright infringement is deemed central to the website’s activities”. Under this bill, a website can be shut down even if no crime was committed. Critics maintain that this bill will allow censorship of the Internet without due process, and the big question is who will determine which web sites should be shut down. The government? Yahoo? Google? ARIN?

As David further points out, this should be an issue that crosses political boundaries, as it impacts anyone doing work online. In my view, it's yet another effort to break down the already thin border between our government and U.S. corporations. Between the enormous corporate lobbying body, the numerous government appointees and elected officials who formerly held or even sometimes currently hold, power positions in multinationals, purchased elections, piles of corporate welfare, and a legal code, as well as a Supreme Court, that tends to privilege corporations over people - it's harder and harder to tell the difference between the U.S. government and corporate America. Sounds cynical? Well, you're damn right in that assessment. And while millions are sitting in front of their TVs watching football, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, or whatever - bills like the one David mentions above just happen, and the civil liberties people use to defend large scale warfare are disappearing. People can scream "Freedom isn't free!" all they want, but if too many of us are so poorly aware of the state of the world that we can't see how fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have nothing to do with "our freedom," and how legislation like the COICA bill has everything to do with it - well, we'll get to find out what that means soon enough.

For those of you in the U.S. who are interested in speaking out against this bill, you can locate your Senators here.


David said...

Great, Nathan, and well put. I am glad to see someone else talk about this. If we are silent now, chances are we will be sorry later.

Leaf Dharma said...

Good thing I live in Canada.

Algernon said...

There is welcome news that Senator Wyden has pledged to stop this, and he has the power to place a hold on it.

It is still worth contacting our own Senators and registering our objections and why. Goodness, Nathan, both your senators are on the Judiciary Committee and voted for this!

You are right, I think, in your analysis that the membrane between corporate priorities and legislative power is eroding at an accelerating rate.

Nathan said...


I'm disappointed in Franken. Klobuchar's vote doesn't surprise me at all.

Yes, that's good news. I hope Wyden helps stops it.


spldbch said...

I understand what they are trying to do with this bill but the way it is written leaves a lot of potential for abuse. I guess the question is how do you balance the rights of an artist or record label in terms of owning and profiting from their music versus the rights and freedom of the general (online) population. I don't think that this bill comes anywhere close to finding that balance...